WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called President Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon a “white supremacist” today, while also telling reporters not to “mistake courtesy for approval or anything else positive” when it comes to Dem leadership relations with the administration.
Pelosi was a bit late to her press conference on Capitol Hill today because of the National Prayer Breakfast running longer than expected.
“The values expressed by many people at the prayer breakfast as they led us in prayer were in stark contrast with the president’s unconstitutional, immoral and dangerous ban on refugees and citizens of Muslim countries coming into the United States,” she said.
Pelosi added that “what’s making America less safe is to have a white supremacist named to the National Security Council as a permanent member, while the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the director of national intelligence are told ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you; you’re no longer permanent members.’ We’ll call you when we need whatever judgment they make about when they want them to come back.”
That’s a reference to the National Security Council shakeup putting the president’s chief strategist on the council’s Principals Committee for the first time and telling the DNI and the Joint Chiefs chairman to “attend where issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed.”
“This is — it’s a stunning thing, that a white supremacist would be a permanent member of the National Security Council, and dismissing the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the director of national security — excuse me, national intelligence — as permanent members,” Pelosi said.
The Dem leader was asked about Inauguration Day, when members appeared upbeat interacting with the new president at the congressional luncheon.
“You’re ever-hopeful,” Pelosi explained. “I don’t have great expectations from what I have heard. But that day was a matter of courtesy — the peaceful exchange of power is a question of courtesy. It wasn’t anything jovial or light-hearted about it. It was a question of courtesy.”
She noted her spirits were “lifted” by the Women’s March the next day, and by the demonstrations at airports against Trump’s executive order this past weekend.
“President Lincoln said public sentiment is everything and the more the public shows that they are aware of what is happening, the more they hold us all accountable,” she said. “Democrats and Republicans alike. This isn’t political. It’s about America. It’s about patriotic duty to — to be informed and to weigh in and hold people accountable whose decisions affect their lives.”
Pelosi also reiterated her assertion at a townhall forum this week that people who care about breathing and drinking shouldn’t support Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
“If you care about clean air, clean water, food safety, safety of medicine, workers’ rights, shareholders’ rights, class-action suits against fraud in the securities industry; if you care about the enforcement with the values of the [Individuals with Disabilities Education Act], addressing the concerns of children with disabilities, and saying in his case, children with autism should not have access to the same opportunities to reach their intellectual and personal best, this is what he has chosen,” she said.
“…Elections have ramifications. And as he has said, the president has said as far back as June, he saw a list of people. He met the standard for the far right, for issues that relate to a woman’s right to choose, marriage equality, and more. And he made that commitment, which he honored in the worst possible way.”